Peninsula: Hot-race winners not known for days?

The hottest contests in Jefferson and Clallam counties are the City Council races in Port Townsend and Port Angeles, Clallam County auditor, Forks mayor and the Port of Port Angeles commissioner race between Bill Hannan and Corby Somerville.

But some of the winners may not be known for days — because so many Peninsula residents vote by mail.

Since state law allows mail ballots to be postmarked as late as Election Day, many of them don’t even show up in the elections office until days after the polls close.

If a race is close, Election Night becomes Election Week.

When elections workers turn out the lights Tuesday night, they expect to have counted virtually all the votes cast at the polls that day. But the bulk of the late-arriving mail ballots won’t be counted until Thursday or Friday.

The last mail ballot doesn’t have to be tabulated until Tuesday, Nov. 20.

More than half the 10,413 mail-in ballots had been returned as of Friday in Jefferson County. About 55 percent of the county’s 18,463 voters vote by mail.

In Clallam County, 11,152 mail-in ballots, 38 percent of the 29,100 sent out last month, were returned as of Friday. About 72 percent of the county’s 40,250 registered voters cast ballots by mail.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, or deposited in a country dropbox by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Neighborhood polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

State contests

The hottest contests in the state are over the three statewide initiatives, the Seattle mayor’s race and the 21st and 38th legislative district races in Snohomish County.

The legislative races could end a three-year tie for power in the state House and break the gridlock that has derailed dozens of policy initiatives.

Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts a relatively low 53 percent voter turnout. That’s 15 points short of the historic high for an odd-year election, said Reed, a Republican.

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